Incumbent vs Independent
Montana Senate District 36
Election ballots are in the mail and the candidates for Montana Senate District 36 are in high hopes.
John Lamb is running as a Libertarian against Republican incumbent Jeff Welborn. Lamb faces a steep challenge running as an Independent and against the power of incumbency. Welborn represents more moderate conservative views, while Lamb campaigned on reducing government regulation.
Welborn is a seasoned legislator out of Dillion. He was first elected to the Montana House in 2008 and moved to the Montana Senate in 2017. Welborn’s experience in the state legislature provides a certain security in the 2020 elections. The large geographical area legislators represent in rural districts, like Montana Senate District 36, heightens the importance of building coalitions within the legislature.
“We don’t have enough legislators in a large geographical area to get legislation passed on our own,” Welborn said.
Lamb is running for an elected office for the first time and he has big ideas on property taxes and individual rights. He believes that the elderly and veterans should not have to pay property taxes and has a plan to phase out property taxes on residential homes all together.
“Since I’ve never served,” Lamb said. “I have big ideas that might not be compatible with process.”
Welborn is the chairman of the Natural Resources Committee and vice chairman on the joint-interim Water Policy Committee. He said he does not predict huge changes in water policy but believes water policies on how water rights are decided should be revamped.
Both candidates thought that the state government overreached in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. But each had very different views on what should had been done. Lamb said he did not think the Governor’s Office had the right to impose the mandates that they did. Welborn wanted more of a public process in the decisions.
“The real challenge that people are struggling with is that there is no public process for people to weigh in on the decisions that are affecting their lives,” Welborn said. “Whether it changes the outcome isn’t my point. Government found the loop holes in laws that people aren’t happy with.”
The 2021 legislative session in January will likely be dominated with budget decisions in the wake of the pandemic’s costly impact. New policy that requires funding will be difficult to pass this year, according to Welborn.
“We need to work together, keep an open mind and don’t let Montana get to the state of the national government,” Welborn said.